First Amendment News

California open government roundup: With COVID-19 threat governor loosens open meeting law

The coronavirus pandemic prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to suspend parts of the Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law. Local and state legislative agencies may now conduct public meeting by teleconference and make the meeting open to the public electronically. Agencies must still provide advance notice of meetings and designate at least one public location allowing the public to observe a meeting and offer comment. (JD Supra, March 13, 2020, press release) A citizens group

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Coronavirus: False information spread on social media threatens democratic governance

Preposterous claims about the coronavirus are flying across the internet as Twitter, Google and Facebook work to eliminate as much as they can, but their efforts are falling short against the onslaught. The false information has people panicking, seeking magical cures and entertaining conspiracy theories. It takes a few days to take down the false stories, too late to prevent widespread dissemination. (The New York Times, March 8, 2020, by Sheera Frenkel, Davey Alba and

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Cononavirus whistleblower faces retaliation

A whistleblower in the Health and Human Services administration is allegedly facing reassignment or loss of job after she complained that workers from her agency were sent in January and February without protective gear or training to meet with Americans evacuated from China. They could have contacted the conoravirus themselves or spread it on their return to home states. The workers were not tested for the virus. (SLATE, February 27, 2020, by Molly Olmstead) The

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So what else is new?: Administration criticizes news media over virus coverage

The acting Chief of Staff Nick Mulvaney said the news media is using the coronavirus crisis to “bring down the president.” He said that President Donald Trump had taken steps to curtail the virus and that news coverage was exaggerating its seriousness. (The New York Times, February 28, 2020, by Anni Karni) The Trump administration claim they took unprecedented steps to contain the virus while the director of the Center for Disease Control Nancy Messonnier

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Free speech: WikiLeaks founder faces extradition

Hearings are underway in the United Kingdom to determine if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be extradited to the U.S. for releasing thousands of secret cables and files related to U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange says he should be treated as a journalist with First Amendment protections. President Donald Trump faces a dilemma in that some conservatives want to try Assange for his assault on national defense while others want him free

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